The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Bill O'Reilly on science: Why is Earth the only planet with a moon?

As my blogmate Jim Rainey has frequently pointed out, Fox News has its own unique view of the world, where the facts rarely get in the way, most recently in the way Fox pollster Frank Luntz used a strange brand of faux science to find a panel of people unimpressed by President Obama's recent State of the Union address. But when it comes to seeing the world through the wrong end of a telescope, no one tops Bill O'Reilly, who has been the butt of a thousand jokes after confronting an atheist on his show with irrefutable evidence of the existence of God--using as his evidence the fact that the tides come in and the tides go out. I mean, O'Reilly said with great certainty, who else could possibly be controlling that?

As any scientist could tell you, it's the moon that controls the tides. So Papa Bear has taken to the airwaves again to pursue a new wrinkle in his faux science agenda. He now acknowledges that the tides might indeed be controlled by the moon. But so what? As he says: "How'd the moon get there? Can you explain that to me? How come we have that? And Mars doesn't have it. Venus doesn't have it. How come?"

Actually, as any amateur astronomer knows, Jupiter has lots of moons, 63 in all, several of which you can see through a good pair of binoculars. One of them, Ganymede, is actually larger than Mercury. Saturn has 62 moons. Uranus has 27 moons. And hey, Bill, Mars actually has two moons of its own, that were discovered in 1877, long before even Roger Ailes was born. As far as I know, there's no evidence that either of them are made of green cheese either. I'm beginning to think that O'Reilly might have slept through quite a few of his fifth-grade science classes. But he sure is certain in his beliefs. Here, watch for yourself:

 --Patrick Goldstein


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PC Libs? How about scientists who study the development of intelligence and find massive effects of social factors (and none when different races develop in similar circumstances). Read a damn science journal - sounds like we might have a eugenics advocate in the thread. Anyway this chain of useless commenting was supposed to be about Papa Bear spreading ignorance to very impressionable viewer sponges. Its not so much that we don't realize there are other problems in the world (we do). Its just that putting people as ignorant as this on the air with legions of fans who regurgitate and blindly believe Bill's fascinating take on the universe and evolution is also a problem. I've gotta go help plan for our socialist-athiest interracial gay coup... toodles ;>)

In response to "No where in this does he say Earth is the only planet with a moon. He simply asks WHY earth has a moon and not Mars and Venus. Two planets which DON'T have moons. Also, to believe that everything magically exploded into it's perfect position does make you a pinhead." -Don

Not sure if you are trolling for attention but here is link that you should really look at

Actually, it basically is luck and that's not that big a stretch if you consider the vastness of the universe. Our minds can't really wrap our heads around how big it is. There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on planet Earth. So, of course, around some of them conditions are perfect for life like us. It doesn't have to be the design of some higher being. It just happened. And, I don't think that should get in the way of anyone's faith. Even the Vatican has its own astronomer.

man this guy is a derp

Like most theists, O'Reilly has no use for facts or rational thinking. Because religion always uses guilt to control people, a certain amount of masochism is needed to believe, too. Perhaps this self-loathing and desire to be hurt is showing up as an uncontrollable urge to appear stupid on national TV?

I feel the need to answer the question on how the moon got there since it is yet to be answered here.

Current thinking, at the moment it is thought to be the most plausible theory but it might not be fact. Is that 4.5 billion years ago in the early Solar system another planet, roughly the size of Mars, crashed into the earth with a glancing blow. The debris from this collision formed the moon, the glancing blow explaining why the moon has a lower density than the Earth. This model also explains why there is so much iron and other dense elements in the Earths crust, because of their density they should all be in the core. So there is a rough guide to the origin of the moon and why it is there.

As to why there is life on this planet, that's a tough one and beyond me. My thoughts on this, not that they really matter, are that if there wasn't life on this planet and the conditions weren't just right to create us then we wouldn't be here to ask that question so just get on with life and enjoy.

Why isn't there life on other planets? Isn't there? We've looked at a tiny amount of the surface of the planets and moons of the Solar system which is itself a tiny and insignificant bit in the Milky Way and the the universe. SO we don't actually know that there isn't life anywhere.

If you then go on to ask why were're here? I'm really not qualified to answer that. The mathematics behind the models under development at the moment is well out of my league. I got confused doing modelling planets, stars and black holes with General Relativity which has pretty basic mathematics behind it compared to string theory which is where the beginning of an answer MIGHT lie.

But what do I know?

There's a start to the answers to his questions

John Stewart gives the news the absurd face it deserves. Pinheads like O'Reilly expect people to take his nonsense seriously.

Mars Moons - 2: Phobos, Deimos
Venus - did have a moon, was engulfed by the planet when an impact event reversed the rotation of the planet
Jupiter - 63 moons - 4 of which (the Galilean moons) are very good bets for the existence of primitive microbial life (hence the NASA/ESA Missions to explore the)
Saturn - 62 moons - one of which Titan - perhaps the best bet to find life elsewhere in our solar system as there a liquid methane lakes on this moon.
I can go on...
Moons tend to develop from giant impacts that catch the debris in orbit till it can coalesce into a single body.

1240 Exo planets recently discovered - why havent we found life elsewhere you might ask, papa bear? Because ignorant people such as yourself prevent the advancement of technology and exploration so we can continue to argue about when raped impregnated women can get state financed abortions...

Its funny that my 8 year old brother in law is more familiar with this stuff than so many adults.

Although I know Conner T has pointed this out, I would like to make it a little easier for those who obviously need the help:

Mars does have a moon. In fact, it has two.

So, is this what you two learned in college ... you have BSes in attack journalism. You working on a Pulitzer in rumor mongering. When you write this kind of trash do you really feel professional. I think you both need to dial 1-800-TRUKDRVR or go to TRUCKDRIVER.COM ... a career change is in order. Go peaceable now boys ... wouldn't want to resort to Army barracks tactics for those who's Moma and Daddy hadn't taught them to take a shower. It always worked for them ... they became clean well mannered citizens. Seems you two are sorely lacking in the clean well mannered citizen department.

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